Title: Death in Room Five (Chief Inspector Littlejohn #24)
Author: George Bellairs
First published in 1955; re-print by Agora Books on 14 November 2019
Genre: Mystery Classics
Chief Inspector Littlejohn is back!
When I received an email from George Bellairs Estates, I knew it was something good. 😀 I pushed all the other books on my TBR aside and made time to read Death in Room Five. Yeah, yeah, call me partial but it’s Chief Inspector Littlejohn for heaven’s sake! So why wouldn’t I read it ASAP??!!
If you have been following the series, you would know that most of the crimes occur when Littlejohn is on a vacation. Death in Room Five is no different. The Littlejohns are holidaying in the Cannes when two men come in search of the Chief Inspector. An Alderman is stabbed and is on his deathbed. He wants to speak to Littlejohn. But before Littlejohn could reach the hospital, the man is dead.
Alderman Dawson was a part of the group that came from Bolchester. Everyone in the group is now a suspect. As Littlejohn digs deeper into the case, he finds out that each of them had something against the Alderman. More bodies are found and the French police are losing their patience. Can Littlejohn solve this one before it is too late?
Mrs Letty Littlejohn is angry! The husband and wife were expecting to spend some quiet time in the French Riveria and here he is, going around with the French police, trying to solve a murder! Humph!
‘I thought as much,’ his wife said when he got her on the line at length. ‘No matter where we go, you always get a busman’s holiday, Tom. By the way, you went off without leaving me any money. I had to borrow some from the landlord. I’ve been doing a bit of shopping.’
Oh, do not worry much about it! Letty and Thomas still love and care for each other. It’s just a tiny argument that can be swept under the carpet. Uhu.
Thomas Littlejohn strikes quite a bond with two policemen. One of them is the French commissionaire Dorange. The man always has a carnation pinned to his shirt – his dad grows carnations and roses for a living, you see. Then there is Constable Haddock of Bolchester. He knows everything about everyone. He tries to play detective by striking suspects off Littlejohn’s list. The end result? There are no suspects left. 😀 😀
Cromwell makes an appearance too – he’s hardly there for five minutes though! The interesting part is when one of the suspects sets Littlejohn on the wrong path. A red herring on a red herring. Each of the characters has certain quirks, as is the case with every Bellairs’ novel.
The book is loaded with detailed descriptions of the French Riveria. The food, the beach, the streets, and Pernod. Nobody seems to get enough of Pernod. L’Affaire Dawson is giving Littlejohn quite a pain in the…umm… you-know-where. Everybody seems to have had motive and opportunity. (At times, I felt if this was turning into a Murder on Orient Express kinda mystery. Thankfully, I was wrong!)
The extensive attention to descriptions might spoil the mood of the mystery, especially if you are looking for a fast-paced read. Anyways, this didn’t spoil things for me much, as the ending was surprising. I did not expect so-and-so to be the killer! The red herrings, remember? Littlejohn wasn’t the only one who got sidetracked by these red herrings! *sighs*
Rich in scenic descriptions, quirky characters and their weirdy-doos, a mystery with a red herring in a red herring, and a vacation gone wrong for many, Death in Room Five is an entertaining and enjoyable read.
Many thanks to George Bellairs Estates and Agora Books for the ARC.